Lucknow: The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has sparked a row in Uttar Pradesh with a new survey on the alleged casteism under the Yogi Adityanath government, leading to an FIR against its senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
Looking to bolster its presence in UP, days after it announced its decision to contest the 2022 assembly elections in Uttarakhand, the AAP has conducted a telephonic survey on the issue of casteism.
The survey found that 63 per cent participants believed the Yogi government is casteist and is working exclusively towards the dominance of the Thakur community. CM Yogi hails from this community.
Around 28 per cent people denied such a view while 9 per cent people refused to answer the question, said the party Thursday.
However, the survey has landed AAP leader Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and the party’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge, in trouble.
Taking note of the phone calls to the people, the Lucknow Police registered an FIR against him Tuesday, even before the findings were out, under section 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) of the Indian Penal Code and also the Information Technology Act, 2000, for misuse of electronic communication.
Speaking to ThePrint, Singh said this is the 10th FIR registered against him in the state within the last six months, but he will continue to conduct such surveys in the future too.
“Under Yogi’s regime Dalits are being constantly persecuted. Brahmins too are being oppressed. All the deprived sections of the society are facing continuous ill-treatment,” said Singh.
“It is not the case that just me or the Aam Aadmi Party is saying this. Even BJP’s own MLA Radha Mohandas Agarwal has alleged that the Yogi government is an overwhelmingly Thakurvaadi government. Another MLA Devmani Dwivedi has accused that Brahmins are facing too many atrocities and injustice in UP,” he said.
“People are saying that CM Yogi only works for the sake of Thakurs. Other castes are being constantly ignored and all kinds of injustice is taking place against them. When I said all this publicly, an FIR was lodged against me,” he added.
ThePrint reached UP cabinet minister and government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma for a comment, but he declined.
The survey and BJP’s reaction
According to AAP’s UP spokesperson Vaibhav Maheshwari, as many as 68,000 people participated in this survey.
Under the survey, the participants were asked this question on phones: “In UP several persons say that as Akhilesh Yadav worked for the Yadav community only and Mayawati worked for the Dalits only, Yogi ji is also exclusively working for the Thakur community only. Do you concur with this? If yes, then press one and if No, press two.”
Assuring the participants that their response will be kept confidential, a Rajasthan-based firm conducted the survey in the last week of August, said Maheshwari. However, he refused to name the firm citing FIR threats against it from the government.
He added that there was a target to reach 10 lakh people during this survey, but the party was allegedly being stopped from achieving this.
Responding to this, BJP’s UP spokesperson Naveen Srivastava said, “The Aam Aadmi Party has an old habit of ‘shoot and scoot’. It is a party of those who chose to escape after making unsubstantiated accusations.”
Srivastava added, “They are conducting these kinds of surveys because they themselves have a casteist mindset. This is despite the fact that AAP has no base of its own in UP.”
AAP’s broader plan for UP
Last month, AAP announced its plans to fight assembly polls in Uttarakhand. It also wants to expand its footprint in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The party is planning to test the political waters of UP by contesting the Panchayat elections, which have been postponed to April 2021. It will then decide on contesting the assembly election in UP.
Talking about the party’s plans for the state, Maheshwari said there is a huge political space currently lying vacant for a viable and credible opposition in UP and “we are trying to fill that space only”.
The party has formed several ‘Corona Support Teams’ in all the districts of the state. These teams are roaming from village to village providing oximeters to the needy and helping in their treatment, he said.
AAP’s Delhi MLA Dilip Pandey is personally monitoring this campaign. A database of people is also being gathered in every village through this initiative.
Apart from this, the party has also inducted many local leaders of the Congress who left their own party in view of its current dismal conditions, he added.